Anyone who’s ever had to work a roster that transitions directly from days to nights knows that the 24-hour period between your last day and your first night is a difficult time to manage. This strange twilight zone, where you’re exhausted from work but trying your hardest to stay awake so that you can get restful sleep in the daytime is probably a contributor to many peoples’ metabolic disorders, including my own.
On occasion I try to optimise my use of this 24-hour period off work by fitting in a meal after I finish work at 9PM. Diem Hen is one of those restaurants a mere 15 minutes from my work that opens until 12 midnight every night of the week, providing a good and valuable service for night owls and shift workers.
Whilst I’m a big fan of pho, I do still try my best to try new and exciting Vietnamese foods like the Bò Né Đặc Biệt (Vietnamese Steak & Egg – $15). My friend CV often gets a text message with a photo of my meal and accompanied by a “how do I eat this?”, and it was on her advice that I dipped the warm, crusty bread into the French oniony sauce and began my journey. I will review each component of this dish separately.
To begin, I think the bread was particularly good. It was freshly toasted, warm and crusty. This is quite special, especially given that Diem Hen is a restaurant, not a bakery. The bread within the crust was a little bit denser than I find in most Vietnamese bakery baguettes, though perhaps this was to improve its ability to soak up the Bo Ne sauces.
The egg in the Bo Ne was very runny and soft, and mixed with the sauce was a much more pleasant eating experience than any other shakshuka (essentially another egg in sauce in cast iron dish) I’ve ever had. Great with the bread. I later overheard some other guys asking for extra eggs for a different dish, and immediately regretted not asking for some extra eggs myself.
The beef was of the Bo Ne was a sliced steak cooked medium and while its cut was a mystery the meat was really quite tender. The Xiu Mai had a good light taste and offered a pleasant interplay of different internal textures. The small sausage had supermarket kransky energy, but not all things can be perfect. All in all this was a good dish, though a little bit on the salty side for all you hypertensives out there.
The Cánh Gà Rang Mắm Nhĩ (Fried Chicken Wings with Special Fish Sauce – $12) was chosen as a bit of a safe bet in the setting of some other unknowns, but ultimately was a bit of a let down. My main issues with them was that they were quite dry and non-crispy, even though they were fried. They didn’t have a strong taste either, despite special fish sauce being advertised as a main component of the dish. The pictured salad I’m actually not sure if it is part of the wing dish or part of the Bò Né. They served the wings with the bread and the Bò Né with the salad, but I suspect that it was meant to be the other way around. Regardless, the salad was actually pretty tangy and tasty.
Will I come back? Most definitely
205-207 Canley Vale Rd, Canley Heights NSW 2166
(02) 9728 4430